By gaslight glow, Tom Newton Dunn and Laura Kuenssberg convince themselves they’re the goodies...

... despite the phantom punches and the Neo-Nazi conspiracy theories

Above: A political journalist consults a source.

“I’m just a neutral observer…”

I heard those five words trip from the tongue of Times Radio’s chief political commentator, co-presenter of the execrably-named G&T show with Gloria de Piero, and former longtime Sun Political Editor, Tom Newton Dunn, on Sunday during his interview with businesswoman and Dragon’s Den mainstay Deborah Meaden.

Newton Dunn is the man who trafficked lies from neo-nazi websites onto the front page of a national newspaper during an election campaign to slander practically everyone in the British Left, but sure, he’s just an observer.

The Sun’s ‘exclusive’ bylined to, Tom Newton Dunn, announced that a group of former British intelligence officers had discovered a “hard-left extremist network” at the heart of the Labour party. “HIJACKED LABOUR” screamed the headline above a piece, claiming Jeremy Corbyn sat at the centre of a “spider’s web of extensive contacts” stretching “from Marxist intellectuals to militant groups and… terror organisations”.

The chart leant on by Newton Dunn for his ‘report’ was quickly revealed to rely on extreme right-wing and frankly fascist material. One of the ‘fact files’ pointed to antisemitic conspiracy theories on a website called the Millennium Report, which pushed such disgusting topics as “the Jewish hand in the World Wars” and an “expose on Jewish Zionism”. Another part of the ‘map’ lead readers to the website of Aryan Unity, a now-defunct neo-nazi group.

Newton Dunn’s so-called explosive exclusive did blow up. By the end of the day, it had been scrubbed from the paper’s social media and erased from the website.

I covered the troll pipeline that led to Newton Dunn publishing lies and outright racist theories on the front page of The Sun, which usually prefers its racism cloaked in the faux-matey language of a 1950s seaside postcard in a previous newsletter.

What’s even more galling is that Newton Dunn has spent time trying to keep the scandal off his Wikipedia page and self-editing that entry to make himself seem respectable. He’d need Nirvana-levels of bleach to make himself clean, however. He might want us to forget but many of us will not.

Returning to the comment about neutrality, I can believe that Newton Dunn thinks that is true. He has spent so many years working in The Sun and the wider NewsUK gaslight factory that he is blinded to the notion that he is anything but a man expressing common sense.

Newton Dunn’s understanding of politics is purely transactional and since at one point The Sun supported Tony Blair’s Labour — the result of the former Prime Minister rolling over and letting Rupert Murdoch do whatever he wanted — he thinks he’s even-handed. But in Newton Dunn’s world, there’s only a right-wing hammer so everything looks like a work-shy, benefit-stealing, asylum-cheating, lefty, pseudo-commie, do-gooder nail.

In a tweet yesterday, David Baddiel — who wore blackface on British television several times, and has still yet to apologise the footballer Jason Lee who he mocked relentlessly in racist skits on the show Fantasy Football which were broadcast not in the 1970s but the mid-90s — wrote 👇🏻

There’s an instinct in the British establishment, particularly among those members who rely upon the newspapers and wider media for promotion and occasional work, to imply that America is so much worse when it comes to deceptive stories and outright fantastical propaganda being trafficked as “real news”.

That’s just false British exceptionalism. Our boys (and girls) in the great tabloid army produce one of the UK’s most enduring exports — toxic bullshit.

Since Laura Kuenssberg was once again carrying water for the government yesterday, making excuses for minor Carry On… character who has just lost his y-fronts in a pigsty — Matt Hancock — let’s take a look at the example of the punch that never happened:

Again this was an incident that occurred during the General Election — funny that — when rumours flew that one of Matt Hancock’s aides had been punched by a Labour activist outside Leeds General Infirmary.

Laura Kuenssberg said activists had rushed to the hospital and that it had "turned nasty when they arrived – one of them punched Hancock's advisor". ITV political editor Robert Peston bundled in with a claim that the advisor had been "whacked", and other political reports posted the claims.

None of the tweets by reporters — and there were many others — gave the name or details of who they had heard about the attack from. BBC News’ Kuenssberg and another ITV reporter, Paul Brand, explicitly said the reports came from the Conservatives, but gave no further information, while others simply reported the claim as if it was a fact. Then video footage was published and… there was no punch.

While Peston deleted his tweets and apologised for “getting it wrong,” the same was not true of Kuenssberg who simply issued a mealy-mouthed ‘clarification’ which still hyped up the “grimness” of the incident:

Do Laura Kuenssberg, Tom Newton Dunn, and so many others believe they are neutral? I think they do. It’s because the people they deceive most are themselves. It’s a self-protection mechanism that allows them to believe, whatever uniform they might slip on, that they are definitely the goodies.